Snow makes early appearance on Storm Peak

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Don Markley never goes into the high country on horseback without his winter jacket. So it came as no surprise to him that there was fresh snow on the high mountain peaks surrounding Steamboat Springs and Routt County on Friday, the 27th day of August.

Markley is the owner of Steamboat Lake Outfitters and has lived here for 25 years.

"I've had it snow on me every month of the year," Markley said. In fact, he and 11 clients from Wisconsin were snowed on last weekend during a horse-packing trip on Farwell Mountain.

"There are two things I never go into the high country on horseback without. That's my heavy winter jacket and my raincoat," Markley said.

Although overnight lows are expected to hover just above freezing tonight, there is no more August snow in the forecast. The coming week is expected to be mostly clear with daily highs in the mid-70s right into the Labor Day weekend, according to the National Weather Service in Grand Junction. The weather system that swept into Colorado from the Canadian Yukon on Thursday has moved out of the state.

Friday's snow was out of the ordinary, but not unheard of. Residents of the Yampa Valley typically can expect to see snow on Storm Peak no later than Sept. 15.

Markley said this week's snow in the mountains caps off what has been a return to a typical summer in the Rocky Mountains after several years of drought conditions. The grass is still lush in high mountain meadows, he said.

"There's more of everything this summer," Markley said. "More wildlife, more bugs, which means more trout and more woodpeckers. The woodpeckers are working overtime on all of those pine beetles. You can hear them going to work about an hour before dawn every day."

What remains to be seen is whether all of that natural activity is a sign of an early winter promising abundant snowfall through March.

-- To reach Tom Ross call 871-4205

or e-mail tross@steamboatpilot.com

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